Norwich City skipper Holt won’t be distracted by derby hype

Norwich skipper Grant Holt has warned the Canaries not to get caught up in the East Anglian derby hype this week as they look to take another step towards Championship promotion.

Holt etched his name into derby folklore when he became the first Norwich player to score a hat-trick in the fixture since 1968 during City’s 4-1 home league romp back in November.

The Canaries’ skipper insists Paul Lambert’s side must view Thursday’s trip to Portman Road as just one more staging post on their march towards top flight football next season.

He said: “They are all big now. The derby is one of those games that always takes care of itself – no matter where you are in the league it is a tough game. We’re under no illusions what is in store but, for me, at this stage of the season and where we are at and what we are aiming for they are all as big as each other.

“We know it is a massive game of course and you only have to see how big it was when we played them here at our place. As a player you want to be involved in those games. Of course we would like to do the double because it’s always nice to beat your local rivals. The fans don’t forget these occasions although it’ll be a bit strange playing on a Thursday. I think we’d have liked to maybe play it on the Friday and then let everyone enjoy it on the Bank Holiday.”

Holt, who was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year last night with Wes Hoolahan, will undergo intensive medical treatment again this week after overcoming a hamstring tear to notch his 20th league goal of the campaign in Friday’s 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest.

He said: “I love to score goals. That is what I am paid to do and thankfully they are going in at the minute but to be honest as long as we go there and get the result I couldn’t care less who gets the goals. If I didn’t think I could get anywhere near my performance levels then I wouldn’t have played (against Forest). The manager also knows that, which is why he played me.

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“If I couldn’t move around or couldn’t run then I wouldn’t have played. I’ve got a few days to recover and I’ll certainly be doing everything right and working with the physios to be available for the next game.”

Holt’s heroics against Forest grabbed fresh headlines, but the skipper was quick to praise a Norwich backline which largely subdued a potent visiting attack.

He said: “I was just pleased with how we defended. Look at the amount of games Zak Whitbread has played since he came back. He has churned them out when he has been out for such a long time but he keeps putting his body on the line and the same with (Elliott) Ward.

“It’s tough for those lads because the way we play we are very expansive, very open and sometimes the back four get left alone. But I think it’s a measure of how far we have come that we can play that way. Make no mistake we came up against a good Forest side if you look at the quality they have on the ball throughout the side.

“It was a difficult start with giving a goal away but I’ve said it before the way this team work for each other and the way they pull together is unbelievable. It’s a credit to what the manager has got and to what the players are doing at the minute. We’re always capable of scoring goals and I think we showed that as well against Watford. When we moved the ball and pass I think it’s a joy to watch.”